Total noob projector questions

Discussion in 'Hardware Lounge' started by darwin, Jun 15, 2007.

  1. darwin

    darwin New Member

    My wife and I are girding our loins in preparation to deal with contractors next week to see about having an addition built onto the house for dedicated HT room. I have most of the equipment for the room already, but we're trying to decide if we want a projector or a large 1080p LCD flat panel TV or a 1080p LCD projector (in the $3k range). One of the deciding factors is how user friendly a projector will be. My wife doesn't want to have to fiddle with anything other than turning everything on/off, changing channels, or adjusting the volume with our universal remote.
    How user friendly is a projector, as friendly as the average HDTV? For example, will it automatically adjust the picture size when changing from 4:3 to a 16:9 source, etc? Are there any downsides to using a projector for casual TV viewing?
  2. Michael

    Michael Junior Geek

    My wife who is terrible with A/V technology can use our projector without any problems.

    The only real negative to using a PJ for daily TV viewing is that the bulb will run out fairly quickly and is expensive to replace.
  3. CJ

    CJ Bronze Member Admin War Zone Member

    Top Poster Of Month

    I would also argue that even if you have total light control, having ONLY a PJ for every day use means watching everything in the dark or near dark. If its not a dedicated HT, I'm a big fan of pull-down screens in front of a Television.
  4. Michael

    Michael Junior Geek

    Ditto on the controlled light thing. I assumed controlled light since you were talking about a dedicated room.
  5. Mike B

    Mike B Well-Known Member Donor War Zone Member Top Poster

    Me too - :D

  6. Matt J_S

    Matt J_S New Member

    My brother uses his Projector full time, but does have controlled light. Otherwise get a cheap TV for daily viewing and a Motorized Projector drop down for Movies. Thats ultimately what were doing.....wife keeps saying next house though lol.
  7. darwin

    darwin New Member

    Thanks guys. I hadn't even considered the bulb life issue. The room will be dedicated for HT/audio and will have light control - two windows with pocket doors to shut out any light when watching movies. But with the expense of bulb replacement, I guess a large LCD flat panel would be the best option for us.

    On another note - what is the best listening position for a 5.1 speaker arrangement, equidistant from the fronts and rears?
  8. Saurav

    Saurav Active Member War Zone Member

    Well, after spending my first week with a 97" image (up from a 27" image before), I tried zooming my projector down to a ~60" image to see how that felt... small!!! :)

    If the room is dedicated to HT/audio, how much use will this PJ/TV see? I use my projector for movies and video games. I'm looking at probably 2-3 years before I'd need to spend ~$300 on a new bulb. By then, I'd probably be looking at a new projector anyway, the technology is moving so fast.

    So... I'd say run the numbers on the bulb issue (check projector reviews, read forums, see how many hours people are getting out of their bulbs, and see how long that would be for you) before you decide that it's not going to work for you.
  9. darwin

    darwin New Member

    The TV/PJ will see daily use for casual TV watching as well as movies on the weekends. The room is basically going to replace the living room where my TV and audio equipment are currently set up. There's just my wife and I living in the house, so the room will essentially be my "man cave". :D
  10. Michael

    Michael Junior Geek

    That is almost exactly how I use my system, except I also do gaming on it. :)

    I have to replace my bulb about once a year. Ironically enough, it always seems to be the week before the Super Bowl.
  11. John Celardo

    John Celardo Well-Known Member Donor

    Me three!

  12. hgroff

    hgroff New Member

    I have my 120" screen fix mounted, and during the day yes all blinds must be shut, and then there is still a small amount of ambient light bleed. With that said Compared to the 55" in the bedroom, I could never go back to a small screen. I have had my FP for over a year and the bulb still looks great. I have had the projector on every single day from 5:30 pm until 10:00 pm Monday - Friday and most of Saturday and Sunday (except a few vacations) for the entire year. I received a free bulb when I purchased my Z4 and on the next ISF later this year I will switch out bulbs. So all in all I am completely happy with FP and cant imagine anyone feeling otherwise. of course I am sure many on this forum feel differentlyand would steer you to a little itty bitty screen! :wink: :wink: :wink: Seriuosly with no ambient light problem, go for the big one........... As far as ease of use, Harmony remotes! enough said.
  13. mark j

    mark j New Member

    I had a TV with a pull down screen that went in front of it. The TV broke and we (my family) have been using the pj for all watching (tv and movies). I will never use anything other than the pj for my viewing, the size is great.
  14. John Gonzales

    John Gonzales New Member

    If it's a dedicated theater room I think a projector is going to be a more theater-like. Some other important things to consider are viewing distance and size. If you're talking 15 seats in a 30' long room, then a 52" flat screen isn't going to cut it. Front projection does tend to be more expensive so budget should be an important consideration too. If you go the flat panel display route, then you'll want to make sure you run conduit, ducting, and electrical to the correct spot for a projector in case you decide to upgrade later on.

    In a case like this, assuming your front projection screen is sized correctly for the distance and is much larger than a standard flat panel display, then 4:3 will be less objectionable in it's original 4:3 aspect ratio (because of the larger size). Any modification you do to a 4:3 image is going to be a distortion of the original image, so I don't think you'd want to mess with it if you don't have to.
    Many people don't like 4:3 images in a regular widescreen TV for a few reasons 1) the image seems too small, 2) they don't like the black/gray bars on the side. Using a front projection system you can use a screen masking system to handle the black/gray bars on the side (you can't really do this with a flat panel display easily). With regard to image size, if the screen size is accurate, then 4:3 shouldn't really appear too small.

    If you're building a dedicated theater, don't forget about acoustics, speaker placement, sight lines, cooling, sound isolation, equipment placement, etc... Definitely easier and less expensive to address prior to construction as opposed to after.
  15. darwin

    darwin New Member

    Many thanks for the input folks. Sorry for the long delay in replying, I've been out of town for a while.
    I've talked to the first of what will probably be quite a few contractors over the next couple of weeks - $32k to have eighteen by thirty feet (inside measurements) with a vaulted ceiling room added to the house. Although it's a hefty price, it's better than what I was expecting.
    I'm leaning back toward a projector again, so along with researching those I'm also trying to figure out the best screen size for my set-up and I think I would prefer a fixed screen.
    The room will be used primarily by me and occasionally my wife. My kids are all grown and we don't entertain much at home. So seating will be minimal, four or five seats at most.
    One of the factors I have to take into consideration in regard to screen size is speaker placement. I'm using Maggie 3.6s as fronts, CC3s as center front and center rear, and 1.6s as rears. The fronts need to be placed well away from the front and side walls for them to sound their best. I don't want a screen that's too large that it interferes with speaker placement or one that's too small either.
  16. Troy Seufert

    Troy Seufert New Member

    Me four.
  17. Tim K

    Tim K New Member

    Having just converted my basement "office" into an HT I thought I would chime in. The choices were Plasma vs PJ as my 53" RPTV had to go. I was not willing to go smaller as I already felt my 53" TV was small. A 58" HD plasma would have run me probably $3000 to get one I felt was good enough. For under $2,000 I got a 720p HD projector, Screen, and a new DVD player and could not be happier.

    It is essentially my man room and I have tried to stupid-proof it. Everything is setup with a $100 Harmony activity based remote and wired with an IR distributor. Even the lighting is automated (1 Lutron Spacer switch was about $50). I had to go with a pulldown screen, and I wasn't willing to drop $700 for a remote controlled screen so that is the only non-automated aspect.

    The only caveat is that you need to let the PJ warm up and cool down so its not good if you just want to turn on the TV and click around to kill 15minutes. But if you are going to sit down and watch TV or a movie for a couple of hours it is great. 4:3 material and 1.78:1 material don't bother me at all on the PJ. I barely notice the "black" areas because the picture itself is so large it doesn't seem like screen real estate is being wasted.

    If you are concerned with having the lights off all the time, get a projector that is really bright and you can get away with running it with some ambient lighting.

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